(WFI) English Premier League CEO Richard Scudamore says he thinks it inevitable UEFA’s financial fair play rules will take effect in his league, but admits “nervousness” at some of its implications.
Strict rules governing the amount of debt clubs competing in UEFA competition can take on come into play next year and there have been calls for the EPL to adopt similar measures. Debt crises at Liverpool and Portsmouth have become national issues, while the EPL has come in for strong criticism for sanctioning the Glazer family’s heavily leveraged takeover of Manchester United.
“Effectively when you have 19 clubs applying for the [UEFA] license you will have it,” Scudamore told a committee of MPs investigating football governance.
But he said that the Premier League wished to sound a cautionary note on financial fair play, suggesting that it could hinder upwardly mobile clubs.
“Why would you straitjacket some of your clubs? This is not going to bite or affect many of the clubs with big revenues,” he said.
“So, the Manchester Uniteds of the world have £300million of income and can spend £300 million and still stay within the rules. Why though, when you have smaller clubs that are aspirational – coming up from the Championship, for example – why shouldn’t those clubs who have got those funds available be able to invest them to make them better.
“There’s just one cautionary note we are sounding, which is why should we stop those clubs from moving up.”
Scudamore acknowledged that more could have been done about the financial crisis at Portsmouth, which was exacerbated by uncertainty over who actually owned the club. He said that the Premier League had since taken measures to rectify gaps in club ownership rules.
Scudamore was joined by EPL chairman Sir Dave Richards, who was characterised in an earlier hearing by former FA chairman Lord Triesman as a foul-mouthed bully.
Richards said that he was “really saddened” by Triesman’s claims, which left him “a little bit dejected”.
He denied that he had blocked reform, as Triesman had accused him.
“I have never bullied anybody, it is a fair and democratic vote. To think the Premier League chairman could block nine others is ridiculous,” said Richards.
“For twelve years I’ve been one of the chairman at the NSPCC that raised a quarter of a billion pounds for children who have suffered bullying and abuse.
“Lord David knew that and he knew how passionate I was about protecting all these different styles of things. It makes me wonder why he said such a thing.
“I thought I was someone very close to Lord T. We traveled quite extensively together and I helped him very much when he wanted to be introduced to people and he wanted to be taken to different places. I was always very supportive of him. Why he would think I’ve blocked him… There may have been differences of opinion between me and Lord David, but I never brought them into the boardroom”
Richards, who rarely speaks publicly, did his best to charm MPs, although his replies were heavily reliant on a thick pile of notes, while Scudamore took ownership of the more testing questions.
Richards opened up the possibility of a winter break for English football, saying that the EPL had been “discussing ways forward how we can introduce a winter break.”
But Scudamore added that such plans were hampered by the congested calendar. He said that the “main culprits” were UEFA and FIFA, who had both increased their demands in the past two decades, while the Premier League had reduced theirs.
From INSIDER’s James Corbett
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